Cultural numbness: The effect of social media

Early Monday morning, drivers were surprised to find that traffic was redirected from the UTSA Boulevard bridge crossing Interstate 10. A man, described to be in his early twenties, threatened to jump from the 14-foot bridge if police violated his personal space. For the better part of an hour the man threw objects onto Interstate 10, causing considerable traffic delays.

On social media, reaction to the delays was swift, callous and inconsiderate.

“Bridge clearance there is about 14 feet,” wrote one Facebook user. “Should go to IH10 and 410 entrance bridge, now that’s suicide.”
“What the…?” wrote a UTSA student. “I was late to school ‘cause of this inconsiderate jerk … not the place to jump off of either.”

Hundreds of online Facebook users “liked” these comments.

According to’s most recent Health Profile, in 2010 suicide in Bexar County was the fourth leading cause of death for those aged 15-24. Moreover, suicide is the fourth leading cause for those aged 25-44 years.

Suicide occurred 116 times among males and 46 times among females.
Social media has created a culture that has made people numb, curious and insensitive — even to suicide.

During a recent National Public Radio talk show focusing on the murders of American journalists by ISIS, one caller described Americans as calloused voyeurs.

One need look no further than Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to realize the depth of some people’s insatiable appetite for horrific videos or pictures.

Social media is a beneficial medium but can also be a negative one. We cannot change what people think — and shouldn’t try — but we should and can control what we say.